Bay View High Class Of 1968 Planning 50th Reunion

December 30, 2017

By Ron Winkler (Class of 1968)

This was the view of the north side of BVHS before the 1975 addition. —Courtesy Ron Winkler

Attention all you hip cats and chicks from the Bay View High School (BVHS) Class of 1968! If you thought that this summer was going to be kind of a drag, give a little listen. We’re gonna lay it on you and tell it like it is. The January and June Classes of 1968 will have their 50 Year Reunion on Thursday, July 5, 2018, at the boss South Shore Park Pavilion, 2900 S. Shore Drive. Can you dig it?

There will be a catered dinner, band, and display of memorabilia. We’re gonna have such a blast! We’re planning a tour of BVHS, a walking tour of Bay View, and there might even be a Chinese fire drill! What a gas!

So don’t be a fink; start saving up your bread and get ready to have a groovy time. Don’t forget to bring your slam book.

Will this be outta sight? You bet your sweet bippy.

School spirit and pride

BVHS is part of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) system. In 1968, before court-ordered desegregation of MPS, BVHS was a neighborhood school, but more importantly, it was a community school. The education-minded community, excellent teachers, high scholastic standards, and discipline had the predictable effect on the students and the school’s reputation.

BVHS was famous for its art, theater, dance, and music programs. Alumnus Ray Dietrich (1922- 2014) led the music program and inspired generations of Bay Viewites and other residents of Milwaukee’s south side. Dietrich (Class of 1941) joined BVHS’s music staff in 1949 and served as Chair of the Music Department for 35 years. He produced BVHS’s spring musicals (Flower Drum Song, 1966; Kismet, 1967; The Sound of Music, 1968). In May 2011 BVHS’s auditorium was renamed the Raymond Dietrich Auditorium.

The sports program was also important. Bill Matthei (1904-1977) was a physical education teacher at BVHS from 1927 until 1971. He established the school’s gymnastics program and coached track, cross-country, fencing, ice skating, and hockey. Matthei’s first track team won the Wisconsin State Championship in 1928, and again in 1966, his final year as head coach. In cross-country, his teams won state championships in 1931, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1959, and 1960. A portrait of Matthei, painted in 1996 by BVHS alumnus Robert Helf (1971), hangs above the school’s trophy case.

In 1966, under Coach Tom Hesiak, BVHS won the Wisconsin State Gymnastics Championship.

School spirit and pride were in abundance among the students, faculty, and staff. There was a commitment to excellence that motivated the student body to maintain a high attendance record, along with a graduation rate of almost 100 percent.

“Brand loyalty” was evident over the years as graduates continued to live in the area and their children attended BVHS. Then, those children stayed in the area and their children attended BVHS. Many graduates became teachers, coaches, and staff at BVHS. By the 1990’s, there were some families with up to four generations who attended BVHS.

To accommodate the large student body, stairways were designated for either up or down traffic. —Courtesy Ron Winkler

The court-ordered desegregation of MPS in 1976 greatly altered the demographics of BVHS, as it did for all MPS schools, by sending white students out of their neighborhood schools. The loss of BVHS’s music and art specialty in 1984 further drove neighborhood students to other schools. Today, the ethnic makeup of the student body no longer reflects that of the neighborhood. The Class of 1968 was all white, and although today’s Bay View community is still predominately white, fewer than 10 percent of BVHS students are white.

Since then, the Bay View neighborhood demographics have changed. Families are having fewer children. There are not enough high-school-age kids to support a school building the size of BVHS, even if all the neighborhood children went there instead of Reagan, King, Arts, or schools in the suburbs. Though integration may at one time have been a cause for such a notable racial imbalance between school and community, today it is more of a necessity for BVHS to enroll students from all over the city.

Student responsibilities

The BVHS Class of 1968 (96 grads from January and 478 from June) was part of the Baby Boomer generation. BVHS reached a record enrollment of 2,700 in 1962. When Fritsche Junior High opened in September 1963, BVHS’s ninth grade was eliminated. In 1968, enrollment was 2100, despite having only three grades. Today’s enrollment is about 900.

BVHS was unique because of the responsibilities it gave to students. The Student Government Association (SGA) was established in 1947, and included Assembly, Student Board, and Student Court. SGA allowed students to develop their special talents and to gain a better sense of accountability, while providing for the needs and interests of the student body. SGA designed a student handbook named Redcatland and worked to maintain good relations between students and faculty. The Redcat is the school’s mascot.

For the most part, discipline was not a problem because students respected their teachers and their peers. SGA’s Student Court dealt with students who misbehaved.

All of its study halls were known as honor study halls, another unique BVHS feature. They were managed by students known as hourlies; no teachers were present. Students who disobeyed the study hall rules were placed in supervised study halls. Hallways were monitored by students via a program known as Building Control.

BVHS had a simple dress code. Boys were not allowed to wear jeans or shorts, and shirts had to be tucked in. Girls had to wear skirts; slacks, shorts, and culottes were verboten. The dreaded skirt measurement was administered by the Dean of Girls, Theresa Statz. Girls kneeled on the floor so that the distance between the floor and the bottom of their skirt hem could be measured. The skirt could be no higher than one inch above the floor. (This in the era of the mini skirt!) With this simple dress code, wardrobe malfunctions were never a problem.

The school day began at 8:15am and ended at 3:28pm. Students got more sleep because they didn’t have to get up early to be bussed across the city. The day began with student announcers reading the morning messages to the school.

Fourth and fifth hours were the two open lunch hours. Students could buy a hot lunch for forty cents or bring a bag lunch. Students could also eat lunch at home or anywhere else. After lunch, students could leave the building or go to the auditorium.

Tom Junemann pleads his case in front of Student Court. —Courtesy Ron Winkler

Student activities

BVHS had the usual extracurricular activities of sports, music, service groups, and special-interest clubs, About 90 percent of the students participated in these activities. Dances were held throughout the year but the biggest were Homecoming and Senior Prom. There were other themed dances, along with “record hops” that were held in the gym after basketball games.

The class plays, which took place every December, were BVHS’s renditions of a popular productions performed in professional theaters (My Sister Eileen, 1965; The Mouse That Roared, 1966; Arsenic and Old Lace, 1967).

A unique event for the Class of 1968 was the school’s first talent show sponsored by SGA. It played to a sold-out crowd and became an annual event.

Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day were observed with an outdoor assembly around the flagpole on the north side of the
campus. (That beautiful green space was replaced by the 1975 addition.) These assemblies featured the Bay View Band and were accompanied by music, speeches, and a military honor guard.

The month before graduation was quite eventful as the candidates for graduation observed several traditions. They were easily recognized when they wore their Sunday best for Heel and Tie Day. On Honor Day, they received awards for outstanding academic and extracurricular achievements. The Senior Dinner Dance, held in the gym, was the final social event for the class. Everyone knew the end was near when they dressed up for Cap and Gown Day.

But it wasn’t over until final exams were over. Students were exempted from finals in two subjects where they had achieved a B average or higher, provided they met the requirements for conduct and attendance. That was good news for many!

In the 1960s there was a sense of pride and school spirit because students knew each other, since many attended Bay View’s elementary schools together. Friendships began in kindergarten, the circle of friends grew during the years at Fritsche Junior High, and bonds became stronger during the years at BVHS, and beyond, as evidenced by the continuity in the committees that have planned the Class of 1968’s four reunions.

As more information becomes available about the 50th reunion, it will be posted on our Facebook page, Bay View High School Reunion—Class of 1968 and also at classmates.com. If you wish to be included in our mailing list, contact us at
bayviewhighschool1968milwaukee@gmail.com. Questions can also be addressed to Bruce Tammi (262-391-8152), Ron Winkler (414-744-9404), or Mary Hancock (414-861-1061).

Tuff enuff, Baby, don’t blow your cool!

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Comments

10 Comments on "Bay View High Class Of 1968 Planning 50th Reunion"

  1. Patricia Higgins Oestreich on Thu, 15th Feb 2018 6:58 pm 

    Info on reunion appreciated! Coco

  2. Janet Gindhart on Wed, 28th Feb 2018 9:15 pm 

    Really enjoyed this article, looking forward to the 50th reunion

  3. Bernard hobach on Tue, 27th Mar 2018 8:57 pm 

    I am a 1947 graduate of bay view and enjoy reading the school news. Thanks. Bjh

  4. bvcompass on Wed, 28th Mar 2018 11:23 pm 

    Thank you.

  5. JoAnne Lovrek on Mon, 16th Apr 2018 5:18 pm 

    Thank you for this well written “walk” down memory lane !

  6. susan taylor on Wed, 2nd May 2018 11:01 pm 

    This article brought back many wonderful memories; I had forgotten things like “heel and tie day”. Great memory booster!

  7. Shareen Simon on Thu, 31st May 2018 5:08 pm 

    Greatinfo from 68! Too late to get tickets to the reunion?

  8. Sandy Barke on Sat, 2nd Jun 2018 2:22 pm 

    Enjoyed reading all the good memories! Where can I get info about getting tickets to reunion.

  9. kathleen (brier) lutz-ostron on Wed, 6th Jun 2018 6:34 pm 

    Sorry for the lateness of this reply. I am not the kathleen you are looking for. I graduated from Pius XI High School in 1968. Hope you find the Kathleen you are looking for. Sounds like a fun person.

  10. Susan Hansen Hoefer on Wed, 13th Jun 2018 1:33 pm 

    Great walk down memory lane! Great insight into our time at Bay View.

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